By Slinn Shady

So here’s how this idea started. I was sat at home, perusing over yet another finely written (and masterfully edited) ‘Tales of the Combine’ article, and I caught myself thinking, “What about those rookies that sit just behind the leading pack? Those rookies that are active and full of potential, but haven’t gotten the attention they may well deserve?”. Well, with backing from Head of the Stats Team, Scott Leroux, I decided to get in contact with a few players to give them a chance to exhibit themselves to the wider SFL community. Their response was fantastic (as expected) and I must give a huge thank you to all the players that took part, for your co-operation and enthusiasm at such short notice. Without any more from me, here is, ‘Rookies Under the Radar’.

Part 1: An Alternative Path to the Draft

The opening part to this article centres around a player of a mature variety; a player who counts themselves as ‘one of the older rookies’ and runs with it with ease. The player in question, is defensive tackle prospect, EJ DeCue. During our brief interview, DeCue immediately opened explaining about how his path to the draft is probably unique amongst all of the rookies in this class. It starts with the fact that he studied at a school that is known for sporting excellence, but has no football programme: Gonzaga. That’s right, Gonzaga has no football programme yet is recognised as an official feeder college into the SFL. So, how does a Political Science Major from Gonzaga gain the traits necessary to succeed in this brutal sport at the highest level? Simple. Athleticism and hunger. DeCue started contact sport by taking up rugby, standing out so much that he got noticed by a CFL scout, looking for raw talent to take back to Canada. After training with a CFL practice squad, DeCue developed the need for success at the highest level. That’s how he’s found himself ready to take the plunge into the SFL. One phrase that DeCue shared with me really stuck in my mind and proced to me what a resilient character he has. “Starting points are just that: places to start. Where we end up, is up to us”.

Part 2: A Danger on Both Sides of the Ball

The first thing that this player sent to me when I opened conversation with him was this (something that, I think, shows his disciplined and regimented character):

Jesse Vick

College: Alabama (redshirt) Senior

Positions: RB, CB, FS

Height: 6’2       Weight: 200 lbs       Arms: 30 inches       Hands: 8.7 Inches       40 Yard Dash: 4.59s

10 Yard Dash: 1.59s       Bench Press: 14 Reps (225 lbs)       Wonderlic: Unleashed

Vertical Leap: 37.0       Broad Jump: 120       20 Yard Shuffle; 4.64s       60 Yard Shuffle: 12.01s

A Redshirted Freshman his first year, Jesse Vick had to learn the game from a distance. Coming out of High School as a running back come cornerback possessing some great talents. He had two options coming out of high school: Alabama or Missouri. He decided to roll with his hometown Crimson Tide as a running back. Despite success running the ball, Vick made the switch to cornerback for his final two years of college, showcasing excellent that he is a top orpsect on both sides of the ball.

College Stats

Running Back: 419 Carries, 1,821 Yards, 17 Touchdowns

Cornerback: 134 Tackles, 14 Interceptions, 30 Passes Defended

A Statement from Vick

“After my Senior year, there was nothing left but to declare for the SFL Draft. The whole experience has blown me away so far. Meeting with some owners across the league; seeing how I fit into their culture; stepping into a locker room full of guys who have already proven themselves in the league. I’m hoping to be able to prove myself and help bring in a championship wherever I land. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be in the both with the Commish or even a writer for the SFL website. Whatever I can possibly do, I will put my all into it. I’m just so excited to get to work on the field!”

That wraps up ‘Episode 1’ of ‘Rookies Under the Radar’, a shorter read than you may be accustomed to, but all good things come in small packages. ‘Episode 2′ will be dropping tomorrow. Don’ miss it.